A Torah Commentary on First
Corinthians 13-14 and 16:
Interpreting the Text in Light of
Its Old Testament Roots
Roland H. Worth, Jr.
Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner.
If accompanied by additional, supplemental material—in agreement or disagreement—it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable from the original text.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Chapter Thirteen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Themes Developed (3)
Old Testament Precedent for the Themes of This Chapter (10)
Explicit Quotations: None.
Possible Allusions/Similar or Parallel Concepts (10):
13:3: Without love the greatest self-sacrifice is valueless (10).
13:4-8: The characteristics of love in the Old Testament (11).
13:8-10: Does the Old Testament speak in terms of the
gift of prophecy coming to an end (14)?
13:11: A time to grow up (17).
13:13: Seeing ourselves “face to face” (17).
Historical Allusions: None.
Problem Texts (18)
13:1: Did they really speak in the tongues of angels (18)?
13:1: The “sounding brass” and “clanging cymbal(s):”
What were they (19)?
13:1-3: Paul as the personal exemplar of the miraculous gifts
he describes (21).
13:3: The limits of extreme self-sacrifice and spirituality as a
means to please God (22).
13:4-7: The mind-frame of love: What love means in
behavior rather than abstract theory (24).
13:8-10: When miraculous gifts will pass away (37).
13:13: Do all three enduring entities (“faith, hope, love”)
continue into eternity or just love (43).
Chapter Fourteen—Part 1: Themes and OT Precedents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Themes Developed (57)
Old Testament Precedent for the Themes of This Chapter (75)
Explicit Quotations (75):
14:21: Isaiah as precedent for speaking in tongues (75)
Possible Allusions/Similar or Parallel Concepts (77):
14:1: Desiring spritiual gifts, “especially prophecy” (77).
14:2: The person who speaks in a foreign “tongue” can speak
only “to God” since “no one understands him” (77).
14:3: The prophet “speaks edification and exhortation and
comfort to men” (77).
14:8: The blowing of trumpets (78).
14:15-16: The need to engage in one’s singing with
14:16: Saying “Amen” to indicate agreement or
14:25: Nonbelievers being intellectually compelled to admit
God’s presence among His people (79).
14:25: “Falling down on [the] face” as an expression of humility,
respect, and reverence (80).
14:27, 30: Waiting for others to speak first (80).
14:31: The purpose of teaching being done one person at a time
(rather than simultaneously) was so that all would be
14:32: Self-control over the use of one’s miraculous gifts (81).
14:34-35: The “submissive[ness]” of married women taught by
“the law” (81).
14:36: The Corinthians were expected to obey Paul’s teaching
because it was given to one and all and was not a special
demand imposed on them alone (82).
14:38: A time to stop teaching (83).
14:40: Maintaining decorum in public worship (83).
Historical Allusions: None.
Chapter Fourteen—Part 2: Problem Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (84)
14:2: The nature of tongue speaking on Corinth: Ecstatic
expressions or genuine languages unknown to the
14:3: The main nature of “prophesying:” “foretelling” or
“forthtelling,” prediction or teaching (91)?
14:14-15: Personal involvement in Holy Spirit guided prayer and
14:16: The nature of “Amen” (94).
14:22-25: How can tongues be a “sign” to unbelievers (14:22) but
the teaching/prophesying they hear leads to an acceptance
of the gospel message (14:24-25) (95)?
14:24-25: How literally are we to interpret the “secrets” revealed
by prophetic teachers (96)?
14:26: Holy Spirit revealed “psalms” (97).
14:26: Congregational participation in the service (98).
14:29: While “prophets” spoke during the service “let the others
14:30, 32: Supernatural gifts were controllable by the
14:32: Why the plural “spirits of the prophets” (105).
14:34-37: Women were not to exercise their supernatural gifts in
the church assembly (108).
Chapter Sixteen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Themes Developed (136)
Old Testament Precedent for the Themes of This Chapter (XXX)
Explicit Quotations: None.
Possible Allusions/Similar or Parallel Concepts (149):
16:1: Charity for the needy among God’s people (149).
16:2: Prosperity as coming from God (152).
16:7: The conditional nature of all human plans (153).
16:8: The feast of Pentecost (154).
16:13: The admonition to personal steadfastness (154).
16:14: Having all behavior motivated by love (155).
Historical Allusions: None.
Problem Texts (156)
16:1-2: The place of the collection: at home or in the
16:2: The frequency of the contribution (160).
16:2: The proportion to be given in the contribution: as one
has been “prosper[ed]” (160).
16:2: The purpose of the contribution: for the benefit of needy
believers; a separate contribution for local needs (161).
16:10-11: Why might the Corinthians “despise” Timothy (168).
16:12: Why was Apollos unwilling to follow Paul’s advice
and travel to Corinth (169)?
16:15: What is the “ministry to the saints” that the “household
of Stephanas” had dedicated itself to (170)?
16:17-18: What was it that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and
Achaicus did for Paul (171)?
16:22: The use of “Maranatha” in the closing words of the
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
In chapters 7-12 Paul dealt with three core issues:
1) Morality--both in regard to particular behavior (sexual, chapter 7) and in general (lessons to be learned from the Jewish Exodus from Egypt, chapter 10).
2) Food offered to idols—either in a pagan god’s temple complex (chapter 8)
or in a private home (chapter 10).
3) The proper approach to the church worship service—by coming appropriately attired and by not turning it into a time for eating and drinking (chapter 11). Closely tied to this was the plea for esteem and honor toward all the varied gifts of the Spirit, a principle applicable whether exercised in or outside the formal church assembly (chapter 12).
Sandwiched in between these various issues, Paul defended his own right to be respected--whether or not he received financial support for his gospel labor—and he ground this in his ongoing pattern of doing everything he could to adapt, to not be an obstacle to others accepting what he had to say (chapter 9). In other words, “never make the issue me”—in regard to any of these various subjects he discussed. The issue was what was right or wrong and not the fact that Paul said it.
In the final chapters of his epistle he stresses the need for love (chapter 13): a lesson which, if they had grasped, would have ameliorated or removed their internal divisions. This serves as an excellent bridge between his earlier discussion of supernatural gifts in general (chapter 12) and practical regulations and rules on their use in the church assembly in particular (chapter 14). After this he moves to the closest thing to a strictly “doctrinal chapter” that is found in the entire letter, the resurrection of Jesus and us from the dead (chapter 15). Even here he draws out the practical, moral implications of what might otherwise be pigeon-holed by them as “abstract truth” and of no relationship to daily life.
Having dealt with such a wide variety of matters, he closes (chapter 16) with a plea for their assistance in raising funds for the destitute Christians in Jerusalem and with various short comments and admonitions both about his future plans and his desires for specific individuals among them.
It should be noted that chapters 13 and 15 are disproportionately longer than they were originally intended. In a brilliant case of “stumbling over my own feet,” I somehow managed to substitute the text of chapter 2 for that of chapter 13—not only destroying the original but duplicating it in my “back up.” Hence it had to be reconstituted, using as the foundation version 3 of this book.
Although I am more than pleased with the results, it also, unfortunately, resulted in a doubling of the verse 3 length and 10,000 words over the lost version 4! On the other hand, there is much “down to earth,” realistic discussion of the nature of love—and the other subjects Paul touches on here—than are found in many published texts so I feel confident that even the unexpectedly long chapter should reward the reader’s time very well.
Unfortunately Chapter 15 has had to be “spun off” to be the last volume in this series. Chapter 15’s revision had already held up the finishing of the 1 Corinthians volumes for many months, since it was necessary to include material that was totally missing in version 3. The result should interest the reader for it includes a significant volume of data providing a partial analysis of a new theological trend that seems to be picking up far more “steam” than I would ever have expected it. Hence this material will hopefully provide the reader with material relevant both to traditional controversies surrounding the text as well as this “new theater of action.”
In spite of the desire to include this chapter, that material is already longer than the contents of chapters 13, 14, and 16 combined—not to mention still unfinished as the quarterly deadline for this material draws ever closer. Indeed the expansion of that chapter provided the opportunity to re-examine one of more of the other final chapters from the same research sources, expanding the length of certain of that material as well.
Hence it is
my hope that the expanded materials will be of even greater value to the reader
than the original form would have been.
Note: The footnotes in this volume do not include anything more than author and page numbers when the original mention of a work was in the first or second volume. The Bibliography for all three volumes is at the end of this one. Chapter 15 will have a Bibliography strictly for the materials utilized there.
There will be a certain inconsistency in page numbers between certain chapters,
where they were later subdivided into multiple chapters. This was done because the web site indicated the length exceeded its guidelines for individual files. Even so, the already assigned page numbers from the originally undivided form, should still prove useful to help a researcher find the place they wanted to come back to.